Real Life

Take 5 visits Australia's SPOOKIEST town

Our writers Brittany Smith and Mitchell Jordan bravely ventured to Picton, south-west of Sydney, in search of its famous ghosts

By Mitchell Jordan
Driving through the bush, I looked up at the sign that read Beware.
"Are you sure we should go through with this?" I asked my colleague Brittany, who'd agreed to accompany me.
"Don't worry," she said assuredly, "the sign's just warning us of snakes."
I sighed with relief.
Compared to our mission, the sight of a snake didn't seem so bad.
We'd travelled about 80km south-west of Sydney to Picton, a country town of more than 4000 people, to see if it lived up to its spooky reputation.
Joining us for moral support was my dog, Cali, who sat in the back seat, oblivious to what was lying in wait.
Dachshunds were bred to squeeze through tunnels and hunt badgers, so I figured Cali's snout would be put to good use sniffing out spirits.
Earlier that morning, we'd driven to the nearby Studley Park House, a dilapidated two-
storey homestead built in 1889.
Brittany braved the Mushroom tunnel.
Run-down and ramshackle, the house definitely had a sinister feel to it.
Not surprising given that the body of 14-year-old Ray Blackstone was stored here until his funeral after he drowned in 1909.
Many claim his spirit still haunts the home, and it's easy to see why – both of us felt uneasy, as though we were being watched.
But now we were off to see the famous Mushroom Tunnel.
Back in 1884, the decapitated body of a man was discovered there.
Many years later, 51-year-old Picton resident Emily Bollard was on the way to visit her brother when she decided to take a shortcut home.
She walked through the tunnel but was hit by an oncoming train.
Since then, many who've entered have caught sight of a headless woman in white.
Local ghost hunter Jenny Davies confirmed that the spirit of Emily is still active.
"She likes to move among the participants and loves to touch their hair and body, especially their arms and legs," Jenny says.
But it's not just Emily who's said to haunt the tunnel.
After her death, others committed suicide there.
Mitchell in the darkness.
Over the years, dozens of townsfolk have reported feeling deathly cold, while others have seen orbs.
Not knowing what to expect, Brittany opted to go in first.
I stood at the arch, holding onto Cali's lead while Brittany stepped into the darkness and disappeared from view.
That moment, Cali surged forward with the strength of a draught horse, pulling me into the tunnel whether I liked it or not.
"I think Cali's trying to protect you," I said to Brittany, who was white with terror.
Both of us sensed a chill as the darkness enveloped us.
That moment, heavy footsteps came thudding down behind us.
We jumped and spun around, but there was no-one there.
We bolted down the tunnel to escape, but Cali stopped, turned her head and rushed to the stone wall, staring at it transfixed.
"She can see something," I gasped.
Many spirits aren't visible to the human eye and only appear on camera.
I tried to start snapping, but for some reason the screen was blurred out.
Brittany, Mitch and Cali fought their fears.
By now, we were halfway into the tunnel.
"Let's get out of here," Brittany urged.
Despite the summer heat, we were cold.
Scooping Cali into my arms, we bolted back out into the sunlight and got straight into the car.
Those 10 minutes in Mushroom Tunnel were enough for us to know that it's definitely haunted.
In fact, one of our shots even showed a bright red orb.
Perhaps that's what Cali could see so clearly.
We're not going back – but don't let that stop you.
And if you do see the headless woman, tell her that Brittany and I are still terrified!

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